PosterĄG Ivy at 22:10:51 12/3/97 from n47-166.dialup.seed.net.tw
First, let's think about the title---Harlem. Look up the dictionary and relevant link on the web, we can find that Harlem is a place in New York City where many African-American live in. Originally, Harlem was an elegant section that many black people lived there and made their own. It was a black city. Many people moved here in order to find a better job and fuller citizenship, they all had a beautiful dream, that they could have a better life, equal status as whites, what their American dream was. Somehow, their dream didn't fulfill--- unemployment, poverty, violence and segregation, they're depressed. Read the poem and we can find that it's separated in four stanzas. In the first stanza, there's only one line with a question mark. Notice that the speaker uses "dream" in stead of "hope"; "deferred" in stead of "unfulfill". What does it mean? I think the speaker may think that dream is more active than hope. Black people may prefer to living by their own than living by other people's help. Dream is what they can try their hard to make it come true, they don't have to beg for other's sympathize and bounty, and also, dream makes them to have a strong motive to work hard. As a result, the speaker uses "deferred". He deeply believes that their dream will someday come true, so it's not unfulfill, it's deferred. Then read the second stanza, we can image that though the speaker doesn't give up the expect, however, the late of the dream still makes him hurt. Four question marks, directly and sorrowfully, I seem to be affected by his deep emotion, too. I think those questions give readers a strong astonishment and make people to think about those questions of how and what black people feel conscientiously and seriously.
At last read the third and fourth stanza. In my opinion, they're some kind of contrast
and a conclusion, too. After asking four questions (of five) , the speaker in the last two
stanza seems to give us an answer. "Maybe it just sags like a heavy load". What does it
mean? Is it because the late of the dream (or in fact the lost of their dream ) really hurt
them and never get well? What originally they can get and somehow taken by others, they
may think it's really a joke. Suddenly they lost their motive , so they become "dead"
people? But in the last stanza, the speaker gives us a question again just like the first
stanza. "Or does it explode?" What does it mean? Is it negative or positive? Will Black
people unite to fight for what they want? (*question: why does it appears as italics?) When I read Harlem on page 767-8, I seem to more understand what the speaker want to tell us. Harlem, the place where used to be beautiful and full of dream, now is described "the
edge of hell". What a pity it is? The black people still remember their dream, but has
become an old lie. They are told to be patient, and they can get what they want. But now, what's their life? They have to vex for tiny things, live with poverty and violence just
because they're colored people. They stand on the edge of hell and look out on the world,
heaven and hell. How should they do in the face of what they remember? In the modern
society, almost everyone talk about liberty and equality, but who really follows it?
Discriminating against a race is still exist and have caused many miseries. It's really an
absurdity. I think the speaker successfully makes us to think about the question seriously.
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